Sewing with Vlisco:

Date: May 6, 2020
So you’re thinking about taking your first dip in the OCEAN that is Vlisco…

It can be a little tricky working out where to start with your first Vlisco project but making that first step isn’t too hard with a few tips up your sleeve!

Vlisco’s designs are always printed on a high quality, cotton base. 

The cotton is woven so tightly, that you can barely see the weave and it’s completely opaque. The quality of the cotton and the inks in them, are as good as it gets. In your hand the cotton smooth to the touch, crisp and full of body. 
It’s lovely to wear in all seasons, as cotton is great for regulating body temperature.
This jumpsuit for example works well on a summer day and transforms to a warm winter outfit when I wear a long sleeved tee underneath: 

Sewing:

Vlisco is easy to sew! It’s the same as working with regular cotton. It irons wonderfully and the layers of fabric sit comfortably together and go through the machine smoothly.
When stitching Vlisco, I like to use a sharp (new), midweight needle (80/12). The fabric is so dense that I’ve had the machine skip stitches when using an old needle.
(For heavily embellished designs (the glittery ink) I exclusively use a leather needle. The embellishment creates a film over the fabric that the needle will need to puncture as well as the actual fabric. If there’s only a little embellishment you don’t need to worry about this, but some designs can be completely covered!)

Fussy Cutting

Honestly, cutting a Vlisco can be a journey. But it’s so worth it! 
Elaborate patterns are the heart of Vlisco, so of course you’re going to want to make the best of it! 

I usually set aside an evening especially for cutting. Having just one job to do helps keep my mind clear. I’m not rushing to get to the next bit, and I find it easier to enjoy the process. 
I cut all my fabric on the floor, so I always have plenty of space to layout my pattern pieces and really see how everything will come together. 

When I need to get placement EXACTLY right, I trace my pattern onto tracing facing (as opposed to paper). It’s see-through, so when I lay my pieces down I can see exactly what parts fo the design will be included in that piece. I find this especially helpful when matching a design across seamlines (like centre back). 

Using the selvage

Every Vlisco is finished with a printed salvage that identifies the fabric. 

When I can, I like to cut the hem of a pattern right on the salvage and then decide later if I’ll leave the hem down or if I’ll roll it up and just have that feature on the inside. It’s kind of like the badge on the front of luxury car…

It’s Reversible!

Every piece of Vlisco is printed on the reverse side! Your garment will look as vibrant and colourful inside as it does outside. 
Some designs even have a different style or pattern on the reverse, so you can use that to create contrast in your project or even to make different-but-matching separates!
This gorgeous set was made by our customer Wendy, out of one piece fabric printed on both sides!

Interfacing & Binding: 

When interfacing Vlisco, I only use a lightweight interfacing. Because of the fabric’s incredible density it barely needs interfacing. It is good to do it however, as cotton will soften over time and the interfacing will keep all your hard work looking sharp.

For binding I make my own out of Vlisco scraps. However if I feel like the edge is extra curvy or if I need to reduce bulk, I’ll use cotton voile or lawn. When doing very curved seams I find these the easiest to bind with because they mold to the shape of the edge so easily.

Choosing a pattern to use with your Vlisco: 

When choosing a pattern keep in mind that Vlisco looks great on large, uninterrupted pattern pieces. So, think simple. Elaborate designs can also be incredible, but the easy route is to choose a simple silhouette with only a few seams, especially for your first project.
If I were going to give you a perfect first project it would be a boxy tee. 
There are sooo many versions of this pattern that you probably already have one in your stash!

A boxy tee is the perfect first Vlisco project because you don’t need much fabric (only a 2 yard piece). It’s also super easy, so you can focus on getting to know the fabric and getting the pattern placement just right.
The final garment is also going to be really easy to wear. 

And that last point is a big one. YOU CAN WEAR VLISCO EVERYDAY! 
Pop that tee on with your favorite jeans and boom, you’re wearing Vlisco! 
Once you’ve had that first taste of Vlisco colour in your wardrobe you might find yourself craving a little more, and a little more… Until you’re wearing it head to toe.

Some other types of patterns you might try are:

  • Tunic or shift dress. 
  • Straight trousers with in-seam pockets.
  • A-line, pencil or maxi skirts
  • Robe style jackets  

And if you’re looking for something more elaborate:

  • Men’s shirts
  • Simple rompers & Jumpsuits
  • Utilitarian/oversized jackets
  • 50’s style dresses with big skirts
  • Floor length gowns and maxi dresses

Although, I’m not attempting to be the style police!
Choose a pattern you love & sew what makes you happy!

I hope that this article will help you make your first step into the world of Vlisco. For me, sewing with these fabrics has been really rewarding.

One garment I’ve made has been particularly special, in April I made my sisters wedding dress with Vlisco.
Though the (big) wedding was postponed (due to Covid-19), Georgia and Jesse tied the knot in a private ceremony. When choosing what fabric to use for her dress we easily decided on this traditional Hibiscus Print.

For advice and questions about this article or working with Vlisco contact us! At info@fabricdeuxe.com

For more info about the making of Vlisco and its history read my 2-part article on “What makes Vlisco Special.” (Part 1) (Part 2)